Behind the Scenes: Cover Reveal!!!

I have two books coming soon! I talked about Devortus Reigns before- the book with dragons. It's now called The Marked Hosts. I finished designing the cover. Getting it right was frustrating. I didn't know what I wanted it to say. I wasn't finding images that worked. 

Firstly, I'm noticing well over half my readership are women. In the past, I tried to design gender neutral covers because my books aren't for one gender more than the other.

For The Marked Hosts, I was torn about whether I should design a cover directed towards a female audience. I talked to my publisher about it and she said I should go for it- try something different.

When designing a cover, or any book image, you need to have a clear audience in mid. 

Since The Marked Hosts has dragons in it, I started searching Shutterstock for dragon stock images. I fell in love with this one and downloaded it right away.

Big mistake. It's a nice image. I didn't know what I'd do with it. I don't create covers with a single unedited image because there's a chance someone else will have my cover.

The Marked Hosts has dragons. They don't show up until well into act 2. If I come across a book with a dragon as the cover's focus, I expect dragons to be in act 1.

I could not for the life of me figure out what to do with that image.


My dragons are nice, but they're fierce. They would never have such an adorable expression.

It was tough giving up on that dragon image. I love it so much. I'll find some use for it. 


I went in another direction. I needed an image of a tough female. I was impressed with Shutterstock. They have a good selection of fully-clothed warrior women.

I learned my lesson. I test drove the images before I paid for them.

Test drive any images before you download. Shutterstock lets you right click them to save the images with a watermark. 

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock
The first two are beautiful but the main character, Contessa Torain, is perpetually grumpy. She would never make those expressions. Besides, her hair is short. The third image is way more like her. The next hurdle. Contessa has brown skin. 

I tried finding more images like the two above- fierce brown skinned females. 
Image Source: Shutterstock
This one is cool. I don't know how to cut hair in Photoshop and I wasn't interested in learning. The image is close but it still doesn't say Contessa. I'll save it for later. The image is powerful. 

It would be better if the person on the cover was in shadow. I searched for female warriors in silhouette. I found some good images. They weren't Contessa. 

I'm reluctant to have a brown skinned person on a cover because I don't want the story to be labeled as an African American book. All my stories have characters with skin tones ranging from fair to deep brown. This is important to me. I want my casts to be diverse.  

I kept looking for images. The pink haired image was close. Too much of person's face is showing. I'm not sold on how she's holding the sword. 

Awesome sword, great expression, partially concealed face, nice shadows. Okay!!! This, I can work with. The image isn't perfect. I don't like the background or the necklace. So, I removed them.

I test drove it on Instragam.

Things were looking good. Now what? I needed to do something with this image.

I tried putting her entirely in shadow. It didn't work out. She's in enough shadow that the focus will be on her eye and the sword.

A dragon needs to be involved somehow and the eye color needs to be different, brighter.

 Now, we're getting somewhere. Dragons in The Marked Hosts are energy beings. One dragon turns part of itself into sword that Contessa carries for the rest of the book.

Tweaked the image a little more and... here's the cover!

This is different from my other covers. Designing it was a little nerve-wrecking. Because it's so different, I stepped back from this project for a couple of days. Every now and then, I looked at the cover to see if I still like it. My feelings never changed.

Here's a draft of the blurb:

She should've let him to die.

Contessa Torain's job was simple. Talk humans out of blowing up her world because of a few rogue Brevia. A moment of pure insanity leads her to save a child. The brat follows her home. He smells like her kind, only different. His existence creates a mystery she it's her responsibility to solve..

She should've let his soul get eaten. The brat is an aggravation. All she wants is a quiet life.

More Brevia invade the human world, feeding off the residents. Contessa and her band of misfits escape to their homeland, Devortus, in another world.

Devortus is empty. Her family is missing. The Sencil, dragon-like guardians of the land, are dying. Contessa only wants to find her family. The Sencil care only about getting another body.

Worse, the child makes her feel things. He clings to her like it's his right to. His existence leads her and her band into a trouble they aren't prepared for, a plot far above her level of care.

The new enemy took something from her. No one stole from Contessa Torain.

The Marked Hosts in July!
Update: The Marked Hosts is now available.